Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Off to College?

Off To College? Here is some advice:

Going away to school is a big step in your life. It usually marks the first time you will live independently from your family and have the opportunity to make your own decisions and choices. As a coach, I have seen 18 freshmen classes join our teams over the years. Here is my advice to my new players.

1. Be your best self! You will be making countless first impressions over the next few months. You have left your high school reputation behind. Your are not tied to your family's legacy. You have the chance to be your best self and you don't have to change to do it, you just need to use your best qualities more often and leave your bad habits at home.

The opposite of this is trying to be someone you aren't. Do a gut check when you feel yourself saying or doing things that don't feel right to you. If you have to work to fit in with a new crowd, keep looking for a crowd that fits.

2. Be where you are supposed to be! One of the first lessons of growing up is showing up. No one will get you out of bed in the morning. Lots of classes don't take role. Tutoring is optional. Studying is up to you. Your future will be shaped by whether or not you show up, the level of attention you bring with you and your consistency. The foundation of success is based on these simple things.

The opposite of this is reveling in your new freedom by sleeping through class, blowing off your studies and spending class focused on twitter instead of the professor. No one will know about your actions but you, but you need to wonder if an hour of sleep or a few moments of distraction is worth your future success.

3. Listen and learn! If you are a student athlete, lots of people are going to be telling you what to do and how to do it. They will be bossy, critical, demanding, and relentless. These are your coaches, your teammates, your academic advisors, your strength coaches and your professors. You must somehow take in what they are saying, work to put it into practice, develop positive habits and understand that everyone goes through the same process. This is how you are introduced to a new culture and keeping up is tough business.

The opposite of this is allowing all of the demands and criticism to get you down. If you are offended, get defensive, cop an attitude or simply drag your feet, you will not be learning the lessons offered and it might slow down your process of learning a new culture and how to flourish within it.

4. Be where you are when you are there! This sounds crazy, but it is one of the toughest things to learn. When you are at workouts, focus on the weight you are holding instead of worrying about the test you have at 8:00 AM. This will help you stay injury free. When you are in class, listen to the professor instead of dreaming of the birdies you will make in qualifying that afternoon. This will help you get good grades. When you are on the golf course, focus on your game, not on your five hours of studying you will have to complete before you go to bed. This will help your score. When you are cutting up with your friends, enjoy! This will help you develop great friendships. Be present!

5. Leave the DRAMA for MTV! Group dynamics are important for you to have a great college experience! They will guide your team's success and your friendships. Here are some things to think about as you join your new groups. Everyone has feelings just like you do. Everyone wants to be included, even when they don't join. Everyone deserves your respect.

What does this mean? Be accountable for whatever you say. It will be repeated. Be welcoming and encouraging. Put yourself in other's shoes and think about how you would feel if you were odd man out. Respect is the glue for a group. It allows you to honor differences, listen without judgement, speak directly and honestly and offer support to all on your team.

6. Be a leader! How can you lead as a freshman? You can be a change maker! Here is what change makers do. When people are complaining, you can turn the direction of the group. You will have an opportunity for this in the first tough workout. Someone will complain. Offer them your help, smile and work shoulder to shoulder. When you hear two teammates complaining about a third, you can speak up and point out something good or simply ask them to give her another chance. When your teammates question the coach's ideas, you can suggest that you all do your best at whatever the coach is asking and maybe it will become clear what the purpose is later. These actions are the first steps toward leadership. They can be done quietly, but your actions will speak loudly.

You have an opportunity to help shape your team or group into something outstanding. You also have the opportunity to be a follower and allow others to make your team less than it could be. It is always easier to go downhill than uphill, but leaders climb to the top! Great leaders pull all along with them!

Good luck to you in your first year! Your character is your best friend as you face countless decisions that will impact your future. Its okay to do the right thing. Remember that!

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